Surgeon was 'arrogant caricature' GMC hears

A leading surgeon stabbed a colleague's forehead with a needle and left a clip inside a patient during surgery, a General Medical Council panel heard.

James Johnson, a former chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), behaved like a "caricature of surgical arrogance", the panel was told.

Mr Johnson, 64, a consultant at hospitals in Runcorn and Warrington, is accused of misconduct.

He denies the charges and has said he will "vigorously defend" his position.

'Seasoned surgeon'

Andrew Colman, counsel for the General Medical Council (GMC), said that Mr Johnson's behaviour "reflected rather a caricature of surgical arrogance that was out of place even decades ago, other than through the lampooning lens of cinema comedies."

The hearing heard that Mr Johnson, a "seasoned surgeon and distinguished doctor" railed against the "incompetence" of theatre staff and was acting so "furiously" during one operation that he accidentally stabbed a house officer with the needle.

During the same operation on a 69-year-old woman in July 2007, staff tried to tell him that a bulldog clip was still in the patient's leg, but he was "in no mood to listen", the panel heard, and Mr Johnson proceeded to sew the wound up.

He later amputated another patient's leg and is accused of failing to consider amputating a toe as an alternative.

'Conflicting pressures'

The charges he faces at the hearing in Manchester relate to 14 patients who were operated on between 2006 and 2008.

Mr Johnson is also accused of failing to ensure patients were warned about the possible risks of certain procedures and that some of the operations performed were "not surgically appropriate".

The surgeon for the North Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust was the public face of the BMA for almost half of the 19-month period in which his conduct is being investigated.

The panel heard that Mr Johnson's role as BMA chairman, which he held between July 2003 and May 2007, led to "conflicting pressures of time".

The hearing is scheduled to last into November.

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